Multi-scale Dynamics in a Massive Online Social Network

Xiaohan Zhao
Alessandra Sala
Christo Wilson
Xiao Wang
Sabrina Gaito
Haitao Zheng
Ben Y. Zhao

Proceedings of The 12th ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC 2012)

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Paper Abstract

Data confidentiality policies at major social network providers have severely limited researchers' access to large-scale datasets. The biggest impact has been on the study of network dynamics, where researchers have studied citation graphs and content-sharing networks, but few have analyzed detailed dynamics in the massive social networks that dominate the web today. In this paper, we present results of analyzing detailed dynamics in a large Chinese social network, covering a period of 2 years when the network grew from its first user to 19 million users and 199 million edges. Rather than validate a single model of network dynamics, we analyze dynamics at different granularities (per-user, per-community, and network-wide) to determine how much, if any, users are influenced by dynamics processes at different scales. We observe independent predictable processes at each level, and find that the growth of communities has moderate and sustained impact on users. In contrast, we find that significant events such as network merge events have a strong but short-lived impact on users, and they are quickly eclipsed by the continuous arrival of new users.